Niles spikers fall to Chieftains

Published 1:26 pm Thursday, January 20, 2005

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC - Serving and serve receive was the difference Wednesday night as the Dowagiac varsity volleyball team defeated visiting Niles in four games.
The Chieftains were red-hot from the service line and the Lady Vikings struggled with their serve receive in the Big 16 Conference West Division match.
Dowagiac captured its second West Division match of the season and improved to 8-8-4 overall with a 25-22, 22-25, 29-27 and 25-22 victory over Niles.
Greulich, who thought the match was canceled and arrived just minutes before its start, added, "Serve tough at them. When the game gets tight, don't try to make the ace serve. Just serve tough down one of the lines."
The advise worked because the Chieftains were able to record plenty of aces against the Lady Vikings and then kept the ball in play in the closing stages of each game.
All the games were tight throughout as neither squad was able to put together many long scoring runs.
Dowagiac did get off to a quick start in the opening game as it went up 8-3.
Niles eventually caught the Chieftains at 14 before the serving of Amber Peters.
The remainder of the opening game was a back-and-forth battle.
Dowagiac's Ashley Urbanski gave the Chieftains a 17-14 lead forcing Niles' coach Jami Foster to call a time out.
Niles trailed 21-16 before making another comeback which forced Greulich into a time out at 22-20.
Niles' Dagmar Hoffman cut the lead to 22-21 before the Chieftains went on to victory.
The second game was even closer than the first with neither team leading by more than a point or two.
Niles grabbed an early 6-3 lead on the strength of Karly Kennedy's serving.
Dowagiac quickly rallied and tied the match at 9-9 on an ace by Lindsay Tyler. Tyler followed with two more points, including another ace, to give the Chieftains a 11-9 advantage.
The match was tied at 11-11 and 12-12 before Niles took a 13-12 lead.
Dowagiac's Amy Wood and Jill Billingham both served up aces to give Dowagiac a 14-13 lead and a tie at 16 respectively.
Niles then went on a scoring tear which opened up a 20-17 lead on the serve of Kaylee Bonner. The Lady Vikings then opened up a 23-19 lead on a service winner by Ashley Pingel.
Dowagiac fought back and closed the gap to 23-21 on a service winner by Urbanski.
That would be a close as the Chieftains would get, however, as Niles closed out the game.
If anyone thought the match would swing into one teams' favor they were wrong as both squads wanted the third game.
Dowagiac would wind up winning it 29-27, but it wasn't easy.
This match was tied at 2-2, 16-16, 25-25, 26-26 and 27-27 before an ace by Tyler gave Dowagiac the victory.
Melissa Olsen's three straight kills early in the match allowed Niles to close the gap on the Chieftains. Dowagiac had built up a 6-2 lead before Olsen took over in the middle.
Four service winners during that stretch by Kennedy cut Dowagiac's lead to 12-10.
Niles grabbed a 21-19 lead on Dowagiac but was unable to maintain it as aces by Urbranski, Billingham and Kim Luthringer brought the Chieftains back.
In the fourth and final game the score was tied seven times.
Dowagiac led 3-1 early before Niles got hot and took a 12-8 lead on five straight service winners from Claire Molnar.
The Chieftains stormed back once again and finally put the Lady Vikings away when Urbanski served up three consecutive winners to give Dowagiac a 23-21 advantage.
Dowagiac, which was playing without senior captain Brittney Reist who is preparing for Saturday night's Miss Dowagiac pageant, was led by Billingham's 10 kills. Billingham also had five aces and three blocks.
The Chieftains also got seven kills from Luthringer, while Amy Wood had six aces and two digs. Urbanski also had two digs. Brittany Bruens finished with 17 assists.
Niles was led by Olsen's 15 kills and six blocks. Peters finished with 23 assists and six points. Hoffman added four kills, 13 points, five aces, four blocks and seven digs.
Brittney Passig also had six blocks. Molnar finished with seven points, while Kennedy had six points and a team-high nine digs. Pingel added six points and eight digs.
Both teams will compete in the New Buffalo Invitational on Saturday.